CASTRIES, St. Lucia, Dec 16, CMC – The St. Lucia government has announced a “heightened surveillance” of pregnant women after 50 of them have tested positive for the mosquito borne Zika virus and raising new concerns about the impact of the disease in St. Lucia.
In a statement, the Ministry of Health noted that all of the pregnant women confirmed so far, have recovered from the illness.
But it noted that given the concerns regarding pregnancy outcomes in Zika positive pregnant women, health authorities are being monitored closely through antenatal care services.
So far this year, the island has recorded five microcephaly cases, the first four of which were not known to be associated with the mosquito borne disease. Microcephaly is a birth defect where a baby’s head is smaller than expected when compared to babies of the same sex and age.
The Ministry of Health said that it had taken note of the report by the Epidemiology Department that a male infant had been diagnosed with microcephaly.
It said that the mother and infant were receiving care at hospital as investigations continue to determine whether there was a link to microcephaly.
“We have recorded a total of four Guillan Barre cases for 2016, not known to be associated with the Zika Virus”, the Ministry said, noting the various ways in which the Zika virus can be transmitted.
The Ministry of Health said it was urging women of child bearing age to utilize contraceptives in order to prevent ‘unintended’ pregnancies.
“Women who plan to become pregnant at this time are encouraged to take all measures to prevent themselves from being bitten by mosquitoes, and thereby, decrease their risk of becoming infected with the Zika Virus Disease.
“The Ministry of Health and Wellness has received a donation of bed-nets from the Pan American Health Organization which will be donated to women at all antenatal clinics at the Wellness Centers.” It said, adding that it continues to engage various stakeholders so as to decrease the impact of Zika virus disease on the population.